An adventuring party recruited from Osirion teleports into Azir on the 8th of Desnus. Rahadoum's recruiting contact in Osirion wrote ahead to note they were expected. Couple of guys he's known a long time - a wizard, a ranger - and a new guy, sorcerer, probably to replace the cleric they usually travel with. They spend two days in Azir getting oriented and head out to the front. The ranger wears an unusually high quality amulet of Nondetection; the sorcerer wears a headband for intelligence, which is a bit unusual as sorcerers usually don't need it to cast, but some variants do; they are otherwise unremarkable. Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, no reading, which could mean neutral or 'hiding it'. They work quickly and effectively, manage resources reasonably well, get recommended to higher-ups for a closer look on that account.
He takes her hand and leads her across into Axis. Some of the tension is already leaving his shoulders. It feels like coming home.
"- Sorry, it is probably a less overwhelming introduction when one is not very tired." Still holding her hand tightly, Leareth quickly dismantles the Gate and then leans on her a bit until he's finished casting his last remaining Recharge Innate Magic for the day; he hasn't been doing that much heavy-lifting magic, technically, but constantly using mage-sight and shielding both of them is tiring by itself, if maintained for sixteen hours straight.
"It's nice," she says. "Not everyone who makes Axis gets here, though, right - how does He pick them -"
"Abadar does not exactly select people directly." Leareth starts walking, leading her toward the trolleys. "Anyone can travel through who follows the rules. It is a popular city to live in so property is very expensive and most people cannot afford it immediately. The market balances itself out. I needed to sell them a lot of my very old rare books to afford a stay here."
"Huh. I guess maybe that'd turn out more efficient than Hell because people are more motivated to allocate themselves wherever they can make the most money, even if you're claiming a smaller share of it. Or - maybe it gets less out of most people but more out of the most productive ones, and you could place a bet that that matters more?"
"My understanding is that the wealth of Aktun is also less - accessible to the material plane, or directable toward a specific end such as a war. It is a prosperous place, especially if one has skills with high earning potential, but Abadar could not use that wealth to fund a country directly, the way Asmodeus used the output of Hell. It is not for that, I think."
"Huh." They board the trolley.
Leareth keeps his arm protectively around her and watches the crowds of people, human and not, and seems content not to talk.
Holding him is good. She's still nervous but probably it will take a while to stop feeling like something awful is going to happen.
Leareth notices that she's tense. He isn't sure if reaching the little apartment he rented for the week will help or do the opposite of help.
They get off the trolley and he points out the building and walks her over to it, and in a very efficient number of steps he's collected their key and brought her up the elevator to it. It's small, and not as fancy a building as the one Khemet rented a room in for their date, but it has walls and a spacious bed and it's in Abadar's divine realm where he's safe.
He stands just inside the door for a moment, holding both of her hands. "- Carissa, is everything all right?"
She shakes herself a little. "Yeah. Of course. It's just been a long day. And I kept expecting something bad to happen but it didn't and probably won't, it's just - a lot to take in."
"It has been such a long day." He leads her over to the sofa by the window and sits. "You are - afraid of being hurt?"
Lean. "I'm not afraid of you. I guess it just seems like - something bad should happen, this many things don't happen in a row without something bad happening. It's silly."
"It makes a lot of sense to have priors about the world, to make predictions, and - I am sure that gave adequate predictions in the past." Yet again he's dully angry with Asmodeus, though he doesn't have much energy to put into it. "I cannot promise no bad things; it has caught me by surprise before." Starwind, slipping an artifact from under his robes, shoving him to the ground– "But we are well protected and I do not foresee any specific risks, and danger does not catch me off guard all that often."
"I know. I'm - really lucky to have you. And everything today was wonderful and this is wonderful." Nervous smile. "It'll just take a little while for all of me to catch up. I don't have to wait for it, though."
"I would have said I was the one lucky to have you." He looks her in the eye, then reaches in to cup her face between his hands, and kisses her.
Eeeeeeeeeee her husband is kissing her in a way that is very romantic and - calm down, he explained his whole thing, he's going to need a lot of time to get to the point where he wants you and that's fine -
Leareth is very tired, but this is the first time they've had un-pressured time alone in weeks, now, and being exhausted is a bit like being mildly drunk, and in short he has no desire at all to stop kissing her and go to sleep. It's not even that late, for people with a Ring of Sustenance.
Eventually he scoops her up and carries her over to the bedroom.
It's so romantic and perfect and calm down, they will do some kissing and snuggling and then he will start thinking about the layout of his operations base probably, you still live in the real world even if it's gotten awfully surreal lately -
Leareth remembers the way he felt in Khemet's demiplane, the sense that neither past nor future were his problem right now and he could just be here-and-now; he can't recapture all of it, here, but he is definitely not thinking about his operations base layout at all.
He undresses his wife - feels slightly giddy about the 'wife' part - and kisses her some more, and–
Leareth thinks she's enjoying herself? Probably? But he's not Khemet, he doesn't have apparently-not-magic mindreading, and also all of Carissa's default expectations about sex are horrible, so...
He pauses. Takes a breath. :We ought probably - do some communicating here. I want you. I - have not actually done this with a woman before, though, so - I could probably use some guidance here:
(Before, Leareth considered asking Khemet for advice on this and then decided he was absolutely not going to do that.)
- blink. :Do you - want to have sex tonight -:
:If you feel ready for it then - yes, I think so:
:I want to.: There are a lot of emotions there but none of them are hesitation. :Uh, but I don't really know exactly what I'm doing either. I know that ideally you touch me first and then I'm more relaxed. - I guess I could. Show you how to do that.:
:I would appreciate that. And - then we can figure something out. We are both clever people who also have intelligence headbands, after all:
:You're very good. I'm glad - I don't even know what I'm glad of.: She's glad that somehow despite having spent her life as a completely reasonable person who wasn't optimizing towards this goal at all she is on a honeymoon on a different plane with a prince who is going to take her virginity and then make her immortal and also she can learn magic with Aroden and it feels - pretend, it still feels pretend, but she wants it more than anything and she can trust it as far as this, right, she can trust the ground not to twist under her right this second -
- she can teach him how to touch her, and then conclude that if she's impatient that probably means that's enough of that, right -
Probably! She should tell him if they need to slow down, of course, but he is a little impatient too -
- it turns out that when Leareth is very relaxed and happy and in a place where he's not watching his surroundings (and probably the tiredness has something to do with it too), and also is around someone who doesn't have powerful shields against everything but formal Mindspeech, he shields less and starts accidentally projecting overtones of whatever he's feeling.